Engines at the ready
The revving of engines and multi-coloured bodywork took over La Rural today for the start of technical scrutineering which all vehicles must undergo. The riders and crews on the Personal Dakar Argentina Chile also took their bow, albeit partially.
The participants are starting to make their appearances. The bikes, cars and trucks who will be sharing the tracks from Saturday onwards invaded the La Rural exhibition centre in the morning for the first session of technical scrutineering. In the long aisles of the hall, the riders and crews had plenty of stands to visit for checks. On completion of this rather easy obstacle course, in principle the protagonists emerged on a level playing field, with their “scrutineering booklet” duly stamped, allowing them to park their vehicles in the secure enclosure whilst awaiting the grand start. The mainly relaxed atmosphere did not prevent the mood from becoming competitive however, since this first official outing of the machines gave their owners the opportunity to let their intentions be known. Whilst the major favourites are expected on Friday, Pal-Anders Ullevalseter, 2nd last year, for example shared his feelings about the brand new KTM 450cc that he will be riding this year: “I can’t wait to get stuck in. The 450cc is fantastic”. The latest version of the Yamaha 450cc, which could also find itself on the final podium in a little more than two weeks’ time, was presented by Jordi Viladoms and Jonah Street. As for BMW, Brazilian rider Ze Helio, a last minute addition, will attempt to help spectators forget the withdrawal of David Fretigne: “I’ll be riding for him. The Top 10 would be good and the Top 5 would be a dream!”The fastest cars, still in the hands of the mechanics for the final adjustments, will be parading tomorrow, but onlookers were able to discover the single-place buggies of the Honda Europe team, or the diesel buggies belonging to Matthias Kahle and Benat Errandonea. However, the pretenders to the title were all present at scrutineering. The seven times winner of the truck category Vladimir Chagin, who took more than three days to make his first leg of the journey from Tatarstan, with a night in Moscow airport in total darkness due to a power cut to boot, has not lowered his ambitions: “In the end, sleeping so little is good training for the Dakar,” joked the Tsar. In addition to Team Kamaz, the other most noticeable trucks were those of Team De Rooy and in particular the one belonging to Gerard De Rooy, who made his return to competition after an interruption of more than one year: “The team is ready, the truck is ready and I’m ready. I feel I’m capable of climbing onto the podium, at the very least”. This is also the goal of Ales Loprais, who was also in attendance to present his Tatra truck.
Tomorrow, the title holders and their main rivals are expected in the bike and car categories. Cyril Despres will come across Marc Coma and Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez in particular. Carlos Sainz, accompanied by his team-mates and rivals in the Volkswagen team (Al-Attiyah, De Villiers and Miller), will also surely have his eyes on the BMW X3 of Stephane Peterhansel. In the X-Raid team, the Mini driven by Guerlain Chicherit has a very good chance of winning the clapometer at the presentation podium in the Dakar Village!
The Personal Dakar Argentina Chile in figures :
* 9500 kms, including 5000 competitive kms over 13 stages
* 430 competitors at the start
* 2500 people at the bivouac
* 2000 breakfasts / 1600 rations / 1000 lunches and 2300 dinners/ bivouac
* 12000 bottles of water / bivouac
* 25 000 police officers and national security guards mobilised
* 350 000 safety flyers handed out along the route